University will receive swine flu vaccine

After months of anticipation, a University administrator announced Tuesday that GW will receive swine flu vaccinations for distribution.

Though the vaccine will likely not be available until mid-October, Dr. Isabel Goldenberg, director of the Student Health Service, said GW will administer the vaccinations to GW community members.

“The University has registered with the D.C. Department of Health to be an H1N1 administration site,” Goldenberg said.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced Sept. 15 that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the H1N1 vaccination for use, and said there will be enough vaccines to immunize U.S. citizens who fall in the target group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people from 6 months to 24 years of age should receive the vaccine, as well as pregnant women and caregivers for children under 6 months of age.

Nearly 500 GW students have reported flu-like symptoms to SHS, and Goldenberg said there could be more who went to outside health care providers or many who simply did not report their illness.

More than 3,500 students, faculty and staff members received their seasonal influenza vaccination at the first two seasonal flu clinics offered by the University – a higher turnout than the University anticipated.

Though GW has secured the H1N1 vaccination, Goldenberg said questions still loom.

“We don’t know the quantity or type of vaccine – nasal spray or syringes – that we will receive,” Goldenberg said. Two types of swine flu vaccinations are being created. One is the traditional injection and the other is a nasal spray.

Though the University has said it will give out the vaccine, some students said they do not feel the need to get it.

“I feel like maybe the level of panic isn’t justifiable in this moment,” junior Emily Bilger said. “And I have never gotten an influenza shot before.”

Goldenberg said the H1N1 vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of the illness.

“We had 500 cases of [influenza-like illness] on campus or many more, but the majority of the students, faculty and staff are still susceptible to the infection,” Goldenberg said. “Immunization is the best prevention for any and all communicable diseases, especially those that are airborne transmittable.”

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